IT user groups are to meet with leading software suppliers to tackle the costs of server virtualisation software licensing, which is a growing concern among IT departments.
Server virtualisation aims to reduce IT hardware and management costs by allowing IT directors to reduce the number of physical servers in their datacentres.
But the Strategic Suppliers Relationship Group – a consortium of 15 IT director user groups –is concerned that the value of virtualisation is being eroded by licensing charges that do not differentiate between physical and virtual servers.
SSRG chairman Ray Titcombe said, “Software licensing is a roadblock preventing people taking advantage of the benefits of virtualisation.”
Meetings between the SSRG and suppliers will take place throughout June and July on a range of topics, including virtualisation.
Michael Why, an infrastructure manager at Haden Building Management, said he experienced a degradation in performance when multiple applications were running in his virtual server. But his software licensing did not reflect this.
Local authority IT manager Beth Hague wanted to use VMware virtualisation software to run Oracle on two processors on her eight-processor server, but she found Oracle’s licensing policy made this expensive.
“Oracle does not class VMware as hardware partitioning, but rather software partitioning,” she said. This means that users running Oracle on a two-processor VMware software partition on an eight-processor server would need an Oracle licence for all eight processors.
David Roberts, chief executive at the Corporate IT Forum, said, “IT users have to be able to build a business case for virtualisation, otherwise they are not going to invest – and that would be bad for business and bad for the environment.”
Oracle UK managing director Ian Smith said that users had the choice of buying an unlimited licence if they found per-processor licensing costs expensive on virtual servers.
“Some people may not want to pay per-processor costs. They just need an overall licence cost,” he said.
Reza Malezadeh, director of product marketing at VMware, said, “The cost issue is simply because the legal side of the industry [which draws up the licensing contracts] has n0t caught up with the technology.”
However, he said the software industry was moving to support virtualisation, citing examples where Microsoft, Oracle and BEA Systems were supporting virtualisation in product and licence arrangements.
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